S&P downgrades U.S. credit rating
August 5th, 2011
09:44 PM ET

S&P downgrades U.S. credit rating

[Updated at 9:44 p.m. ET] Referring to the Obama administration's contention that Standard & Poor's analysis of the government's finances was off by about $2 trillion, a Treasury Department spokesperson said: "A judgment flawed by a $2 trillion error speaks for itself."

The Standard & Poor's rating agency announced Friday evening that it has downgraded the U.S. credit rating to AA+ from its top rank of AAA.

On Friday afternoon, hours before S&P publicly announced the downgrade, the agency revealed its plans to the Obama administration and sent an analysis to the Treasury Department. The senior administration official said the analysis inflated U.S. deficits by $2 trillion.

Treasury analysts contacted S&P and challenged the analysis, and S&P acknowledged the mistake, the official said. But S&P said it still would stick with its decision to downgrade the United States' credit rating, according to the official.

"This is a facts-be-damned decision," the senior official said. "Their analysis was way off, but they wouldn't budge."

The official the administration can do nothing now but hope that S&P's decision and analysis faces outside scrutiny.

"These guys make Congress look good," the official said of S&P.

[Updated at 8:59 p.m. ET] Credit rating agency Standard & Poor's on Friday downgraded the credit rating of the United States, stripping the world's largest economy of its prized AAA status.

In July, S&P placed the United States' rating on "CreditWatch with negative implications" as the debt ceiling debate devolved into partisan bickering.

To avoid a downgrade, S&P said the United States needed to not only raise the debt ceiling, but also develop a "credible" plan to tackle the nation's long-term debt.

In its report Friday, S&P ruled that the U.S. fell short: "The downgrade reflects our opinion that the ... plan that Congress and the Administration recently agreed to falls short of what, in our view, would be necessary to stabilize the government's medium-term debt dynamics."

S&P also cited dysfunctional policymaking in Washington as a factor in the downgrade. "The effectiveness, stability, and predictability of American policymaking and political institutions have weakened at a time of ongoing fiscal and economic challenges."

iReport.com: What does this mean for the U.S. economy? Share your thoughts on video.

[Initial post, 7:15 p.m.] The Standard & Poor's rating agency served the Obama administration with notice Friday afternoon that it planned to downgrade the U.S. government's AAA credit rating, an administration official told CNN.

But S&P has yet to make its ruling public, and the source told CNN the agency is reconsidering after the administration challenged S&P's analysis of the government's finances.

The source, a senior official involved in the discussions, said the agency was off by "trillions" in its economic model and was now working to revise its analysis.

S&P did not return repeated calls for comment.

The official described the talks as a "moving target" and said "it's clear some people there still want to go forward" and downgrade U.S. debt.

Rumors swirled for most of the day Friday that S&P was preparing to make its move. But even several hours after the market close, official notice had yet to materialize.

soundoff (678 Responses)
  1. DAVID

    so canada officially has a better credit rating than the US? never thought id see that!!! Republicans are traitors!!!

    August 5, 2011 at 11:47 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Tim

    Raise taxes please.

    August 5, 2011 at 11:48 pm | Report abuse |
  3. DAVID

    when the tea party is funded by the koch brothers isnt that a loss of credibility already???

    August 5, 2011 at 11:48 pm | Report abuse |
  4. DAVID

    wasnt Canada the laughing stock of the developed world a lil while ago? when their money was worth only 60c to the US DOLLAR? not a single bank failed there during this economic downturn and now they have a better credit rating than the US? shame on you republicans and teaparty...shame on you...its people like you the founders warned us about "enemies foreign and domestic" guess what pile the tea party falls?

    August 5, 2011 at 11:51 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Paul

    Congress was warned that cutting 4 trillion would preserve the credit rating. They only cut 2 trillion, so there's no surprise here.

    August 5, 2011 at 11:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rachel

      In downgrading the U.S. Credit rating, Standard & Poors said that they based their decision on this:
      "The political brinksmanship of recent months highlights what we see as America's governance and policymaking becoming less stable, less effective, and less predictable than what we previously believed. The statutory debt ceiling and the threat of default have become political bargaining chips in the debate over fiscal policy."
      Go read the statement at the Standard & Poor's site yourself. They said much more along these lines too and were concerned that the Republicans had taken revenue increases off of the table.

      August 6, 2011 at 2:34 am | Report abuse |
  6. Paul

    All you folks blaming the Republicans and Tea Party, go get your facts straight. The Republicans and especially the Tea Partiers wanted to cut MORE. If they had their way and cut more, the rating would NOT have been downgraded.

    August 5, 2011 at 11:58 pm | Report abuse |
  7. DAVID

    Obama wanted to cut more too how come the Tea party terrorists didnt work with him?

    August 6, 2011 at 12:05 am | Report abuse |
  8. han

    This happened because the blasted Republicans didn't want to tax the rich. There is no way obama can be blamed for this!

    August 6, 2011 at 12:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      President Obama and the Democrats are not serious about taxing the rich, either. Remember, from 2009 to 2010 they had control of both the senate and the house. This Democrat controlled congress passed and on December 17, 2010 Obama signed a bill extending the Bush tax cuts for those making over $250K per year. This suggests they are NOT serious about raising taxes on the rich. They bring it up now because they know the Republicans will stop them and then they can fool people into believing they want to tax the rich. But when they had the perfect chance to show their colors, they gave the wealthy a tax cut.

      August 6, 2011 at 5:51 am | Report abuse |
  9. TrueGooner

    What's the difference between being $10 or $12 trillion in debt? How is this two trillion a justification of downgrading the US debt? It makes no sense at all. The same rating people said that these big banks were in good shape and rated them highly only for them to crack open. Who are they the S&P by the way. There has to be an agenda for them doing this.

    August 6, 2011 at 1:09 am | Report abuse |
  10. chaveznd

    There all traitors!................. Government has too much control and a very good smoke screen......

    August 6, 2011 at 1:18 am | Report abuse |
  11. Ed Browne

    Grover Norquist, the puppet-master.

    August 6, 2011 at 1:41 am | Report abuse |
  12. Ann

    I noticed one thing since Obama has been in office, that there has been a lot of racial hate for him being president. I saw it when I was in the doctor's office, in therapy, etc. Come on, when you are black you have it hard because of that mere fact. They don't even recognize him as being a president. They don't even call him president, but I have seen them, especially whites, call him "boy". I know that they hate to see a black president go down as a great, so they do everything to make him look bad to the public as president and also his administration. We know the racial thing. I have always lived it. We blacks know what's going on. I am not speaking of all whites, but Obama is a threat to a lot of them in and out of Washington. The only person who really had his back was Ted Kennedy so the Republicans got him out of the way. I can say one thing and that is Obama is a lot better president than Bush who thought he was too good to even go to disaster areas, because it took him how long to get there. He didn't have the decency to go to Ground Zero with President Obama again because he thought he was to good to be beside a black man who is president. Now just imagine if Obama did that! The Republicans didn't want the White House because they knew what a mess the economy was in because they didn't try hard enough. They were glad to put Obama there and then tried their best to block everything he did and not caring whether it will hurt the American people which mostly consists of the poor and middle class people. Some Democrats, I bet, are stabbing him in the back also. Let's face it, when you are Black in the USA, you will have it harder.

    August 6, 2011 at 2:27 am | Report abuse |
  13. Rachel

    In downgrading the U.S. credit rating, Standard & Poors had to say this:
    "The political brinksmanship of recent months highlights what we see as America's governance and policymaking becoming less stable, less effective, and less predictable than what we previously believed. The statutory debt ceiling and the threat of default have become political bargaining chips in the debate over fiscal policy."

    August 6, 2011 at 2:32 am | Report abuse |
  14. theENDofAMERICA

    THE END OF AMERICA IS HERE. just look at the news. please stock up on bulk non-perishable foods, water, home and self defense, and first aid kits now. financial collapse is happening very soon. are you ready? only a complete fool would not take my warning. buy organic seeds plant a garden. soon the stores will be empty and there will be civil unrest. wrol/shtf situation is imminent. google and learn about modern survival before its too late. the FINANCIAL COLLAPSE IS HERE BE PREPARED

    August 6, 2011 at 2:58 am | Report abuse |
  15. Paul

    This is mostly Obama's fault. The $1+ trillion dollar stimulus passed by Obama AND the democrat controlled congress right after he was elected did us in. That stimulus package did almost nothing to create new jobs or even help us from sliding further into a recession, it just increased the size of government. The fact that Obama and the democrat controlled congress did NOT let the Bush tax cuts on the rich expire sealed the deal. Then the cut cap and balance deal was rejected by Obama and his gang. It should have NEVER even come down to a vote on raising the debt ceiling. Never never never!

    August 6, 2011 at 3:12 am | Report abuse |
    • han

      You sir are a idiot. The Republicans control congress, and the stimulus package never broke a trillion dollars. Learn about your politics before you speak.

      August 6, 2011 at 4:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      I'm talking about the stimulus package that was passed in 2009. The Democrats had control of both the Senate AND the House at that time.

      August 6, 2011 at 4:05 am | Report abuse |
    • My Beef

      Stop spending all of the money you greedy pigs all of you.

      August 6, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
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